Operation Finale

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Wick's Review

Created Sep 08, 2018 11:51AM PST • Edited Sep 08, 2018 02:28PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    The banality of evil gets a powerful debunking in Operation Finale, an awkwardly if accurately titled docudrama about the Mossad’s 1960 capture of Final Solution logistics chief Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Little Adolf was famously said to embody “the banality of evil” as he dissembled during his 1961 trial in Israel. Yet Operation Finale pivots on Eichmann’s personal supervision of a mass execution, hardly banal.

    Fortunately the movie is mostly about the incredibly intrepid team of Israeli secret agents who found and captured the Nazi kingpin. Led by the great Peter Malkin as part of Isser Harel’s Mossad, Operation Finale was easily one of the most impressive acts of spy-craft in the history of espionage, real James Bond stuff.

    The movie does justice to this history, including the monstrous reality of the Holocaust, the harboring of Nazis in Argentina and the heroic justice obtained by the State of Israel. It’s impressive and entertaining.

    Notwithstanding several touches of cinematic artistry, Operation Finale lacks the artistic sensibility that suffused Schindler’s List. Yet it makes up for it with the sheer verisimilitude of the epochal post-Holocaust event, and matches it in acting prowess. That last is because Sir Ben Kingsley costars in both movies, a concentration camp Jew in Schindler’s List and a Nazi mucky-muck in Operation Finale. His performance as Adolf Eichmann is utterly transfixing, masterful in its mercuriality and horrifying in its rapacity. Oscar!!

    Finally, Operation Finale is very Israeli – early Israeli – and therefore very Jewish: the wry humor, spry intellects, ironic sensibilities and indomitable soulfulness. It is quite simply an essential Jewish movie.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Oscar Isaac isn’t Semitic (despite his faux last name), but is a more than able stand-in as Peter Malkin, The Man Who Got Eichmann. Isaac is easily one of the best moviestars working today, able to play diffident, as in Inside Llewyn Davis, or macho, as in Drive. Here, he plays both in a deftly understated performance.

    Ben Kingsley deserves an Oscar for his brilliantly realized Adolf Eichmann, the bastard who headed the Gestapo Department for Jewish Affairs. Sir Ben can count this performance among his most legendary, to go with his Gandhi and his Itzhak Stern in Schindler’s List. As noted above, that he has delivered sublime work as both a victim of the Holocaust and as one of its architects is equal parts ironic and awesome.

    • Lior Raz does clear justice to legendary Mossad chief Isser Harel.
    • Mélanie Laurent delivers her trademark rough beauty and fierce intelligence as a Mossad doctor.
    • Nick Kroll impresses as Mossad mission chief Rafi Eitan. Kroll has quite a range, serious as a crutch here, albeit wryly funny, and obnoxiously funny in Kyrie Irving’s Uncle Drew.
    • Joe Alwyn is scarily Aryan as Klaus Eichmann, Adolf’s son.
    • Haley Lu Richardson jumps offscreen as the brave Argentine Jewess Sylvia Herman..
    • Peter Strauss jumps offscreen as here blind father Lotar Hermann. Strauss retains his star power.
    • Greta Scacchi, the great Greta Scacchi, is almost wasted as Eichmann’s wife Vera.
    • Pêpê Rapazote is tremendously powerful as Argentine Nazi leader Carlos Füldner.
    • Simon Russell Beale captures Israel’s founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s erudite intensity.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Notwithstanding some mild fibbing, Operation Finale sets the record straight about the Mossad’s greatest moment, especially when seen against phony accounts like The Debt and even Spielberg’s Munich. Indeed, Operation Finale is the Mossad of Mossad movies. It deftly succeeds at something others couldn’t do.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Really Great 4.5
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.7

    Ben Kingsley’s Adolph Eichmann unfurls a demonic rant to the son of Holocaust victims that is as revolting as anything ever uttered in a movie before.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.2
  16. Violence Brutal 2.9
  17. Rudeness Nasty 3.9
  18. Glib 1.3

    Some Hollywoodization went into Operation Finale, inserting a woman into the Mossad team for instance. It also injects some false setbacks to up the drama. Still, the movie is apparently substantially and therefore impressively true, per History vs. Hollywood.

    One reality question remains: Did Eichmann personally supervise a mass execution as shown in the movie?

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.8
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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